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My wonder cure

Mary Claire O'Donnell | Tuesday, May 3, 2011

We all have weird tips and tricks that we wholeheartedly believe have healing powers. My mom prescribes Motrin, a hot bath and an early bedtime for everything from a cold to a broken bone. My dad loves to tell me to “walk it off,” even if “it” is a sprained ankle. And on occasion, these solutions do work.

I’ve heard other home cures, too. Some people drink juice at alarming rates. Others exercise or believe in the restorative powers of Brie. Whatever your treatment, no matter how crazy, it helps — even if it’s just because you’re convinced it does.

My wonder cure is a little unoriginal, pretty much stolen right from the pages of an old wives’ tale. To me, though, this gives it more credence and medicinal power and makes me believe more in the magical powers I assign to it, since most tales have a grain of truth to them. My wonder cure is ginger ale.

Most people associate ginger ale with childhood sickness. It was the drink of choice, accompanied by crackers, for any day spent on the couch with a 24-hour bug. Even now, for me, that is what flat ginger ale represents. But straight-out-of-the-vending machine bottles mean so much more.

From sore throats to caffeine headaches, chills to dehydration, ginger ale has cured many ailments for me throughout the years, both by placebo effect and the natural qualities of ginger root. There’s nothing better to put my mind and stomach at ease than a cold bottle or can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale, even if I can’t use my Flex Points to cure anything that ails me.

And coming from a confessed caffeine addict, to count any uncaffeinated beverage among my favorites is a big deal. I’ve been on a steady caffeine diet since 16 and haven’t looked back. But there is something to be said for the cool, carbonated deliciousness of Canada Dry — I’ve got to hydrate myself somehow.

Although ginger ale works wonders for me, the idea may repulse you. We each have our own magical remedies, so find what works for you. It’s all mostly mental anyways, so make something you love work for you. But also, if you’re really sick, go to the doctor. No one wants to sit through you sniffling or hacking up a lung in class.

And beware when you go abroad, the exotic country to which you are traveling may not stock your drug of choice. My friend Ro and I hit up every grocery and convenience store we could in Italy and Spain to no avail; apparently, Europeans haven’t discovered the healing powers of ginger ale. And while I comforted myself with more caffeine — when in Rome, drink the coffee, right? — this solution was not ideal. So, if possible, sneak that food in with you. Your body will thank you for that decision later.